Conversions. If the ecommerce industry had a kind of “holy grail” – this would be it. Conversions are what turns visitors to your website into paying customers. They’re what grow your business, your brand, your customer base and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Yet they’re not all that easy to achieve.
So below, we’ve pulled together our top 10 tips for preparing for, implementing, and measuring the success of a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) audit.
CRO audits aim to evaluate and understand your website’s ability to convert: looking at all aspects of your site’s UX, design, content, trust factors, and mobile responsiveness. To define, from a conversions-related standpoint, what’s working well – and what could be improved.
Ready to crunch the numbers, and take a magnifying glass to your existing approach to CRO?
Before your CRO audit gets started, you’ll need to lay the table for the extensive efforts to follow – and that means, in the words of that great Disney villain Scar, being prepared.
To prepare for your CRO audit:
- Define your goals and objectives: figure out which aspects of your website or digital market efforts you’ll be assessing. That could be a specific part of your site – its landing pages, for instance – or an aspect of how your visitors engage with it: like user journeys, conversion funnels, A/B testing, analytics, and data tracking.
- Identify key performance indicators (KPIs): how will you measure your CRO audit’s success? Be it purchases, sign-ups, form submissions, or downloads, be sure to clearly define not only your primary conversion goals – but how you’ll know you’ve actually achieved them!
- Gather up the data: before you head into your CRO audit guns blazing, you’ll need the right proverbial ammunition – which means collecting all the relevant data related to your website’s performance and conversion metrics. This could include analytics reports, conversion rates, user behavior data, and the results of any A/B testing you’ve already done. Make sure the data’s accurate, up-to-date, and easily accessible.
Next, it’s time to get to grips with your existing website’s design and user experience.
- Evaluating your site’s layout and navigation: is it intuitive, well-signposted, and easy for your visitors to use – and for them to locate the information they’re looking for? Check for clear, logical menu hierarchies, and test your site on different devices and screen sizes to make sure the UX is consistent – and the design responsive.
- Examining page load speed and performance: test your site’s speed across multiple network conditions and devices. We know slow website loading times can have a huge impact on your site’s UX, and increase its bounce rate – which is obviously terrible for your conversion rate. So take a magnifying glass to any factors that might be bogging your site’s fleet feet down: such as large file sizes, excessive scripts, or server-related issues.
To get to grips with the web navigation best practices in 2023, dive into our dedicated guide.
Now you’ve mapped out the rough lay of the land in terms of your CRO audits goals – and the current state of your website – it’s time to map out something altogether different – your conversion funnel. To do this:
- Visualize your conversion funnel: map your conversion funnel, illustrating each stage users go through from initial entry point through to final conversion. No two conversion funnels are exactly alike, but tend to include stages such as landing page, product page, cart/checkout, and confirmation page.
- Analyze landing pages and their effectiveness: take a fine-toothed comb to each landing page on your website. Are they compelling? Does the copy captivate – and does each page’s design and dynamism incite the user to action?
- Evaluate call-to-action (CTA) placement and design: your CTAs are the lifeblood of your CRO strategy – so do a deep dive to understand how effective they are right now.
- Review form design: likewise, forms – what they say, how they look, and how easy they are to fill in – are crucial to your CRO strategy. So explore the state of them – and don’t be afraid to get critical!
As all marketing and copywriting nerds know, content is king. But it’s crucial for a CRO audit, too – not only because it directly impacts how users engage with your website, but because it has a disproportionate effect on the decisions they make when they’re there.
That’s why analyzing your site’s content and messaging is the next – vital – step in your CRO audit journey. To take it:
- Evaluate the clarity and relevance of your headlines: are they compelling? Do they hook the reader, and invite them to learn more? If not, you need new ones!
- Assess the quality and structure of website copy: harsh truth incoming, but: if you used ChatGPT to write your website’s words, they probably aren’t up to snuff.
- Review your unique value proposition: does it communicate your business’ or brand’s unique benefits and solutions? How about the value your products and services offer?
- Audit your visual elements and multimedia: used strategically, videos and images are powerful tools you can wield to boost conversions. On the flipside, an over-reliance on them – or sloppiness when it comes to compressing and optimizing them for file size – can slow your site down and have the opposite effect!
Almost halfway there! Which means it’s time to get up close and personal with your conversion tracking and analytics. To do this:
- Verify proper installation of tracking codes: access the source code to confirm that all your tracking codes are present and accounted for – you’ll need them for later!
- Evaluate conversion tracking and attribution accuracy: this is all part of ensuring your site’s conversions – and, ergo, the success of your CRO audit – are measurable and trackable. So ensure they’re accurate and relevant from the get-go.
Trust and credibility play a huge role in whether a person is likely to make that step from website visitor to website customer. So your CRO audit should assess the presence – and extent – of your site’s trust signals. This includes:
- Analyzing website security measures: does your site have an SSL certificate, for instance? If so, is it up to date – and does it conform to the latest industry standards?
- Looking at your website’s trust signals: does your site contain testimonials? How about customer reviews and star ratings of your products and services? Case studies?
- Evaluating your existing product and service information: are you showcasing your website’s wares in a way that exudes quality and credibility? Is it all up to date?
Almost half (46%) of all Americans spend five to six hours on their phones every day. Which means, if they’re reading your website’s content, chances are they’re not doing it from a desktop computer – but from a mobile device.
And, if your audience isn’t ignoring mobile devices, neither should your CRO audit. So, be sure to assess your website’s responsiveness, and evaluate its user experience, on smartphones and tablets – not just on desktops. Get to grips with your website’s mobile-specific features and functionalities: viewing them through a conversions-focused lens to understand the impact (positive or negative) they could be having on your website’s conversion rate.
To learn more about testing your website on devices other than desktops, explore our guide to making your website more mobile-friendly.
A/B tests are the bread and butter of any self-respecting CRO strategy. But to understand which kinds of A/B testing strategies to pursue going forward, you need to look back – and ascertain just how effective your experiments have been so far.
- Reviewing past A/B tests and experiments: collect data from previous A/B tests – like the variations tested, metrics tracked, sample sizes, and test duration – then examine the statistical significance of the results, and whether or not they met the test’s pre-defined success metrics.
- Assessing the effectiveness of testing tools and platforms: review the features and functionality of the software you’ve previously used to A/B test. Was it easy to use? Cost-effective? Did it offer an array of testing options, integrations, and capabilities for targeting, segmenting, and reporting?
Nearly there! Now, it’s time to create an CRO audit report to summarize your findings – and lay the foundations for future action. Your report should:
- Summarize your CRO audit’s findings and recommendations
- Prioritize the issues you’ve identified based on their likely impact and the effort required to put them into practice
- Provide actionable steps for improvement – including clear recommendations around task and project owners to define roles and responsibilities, and ensure accountability
- Include data and visuals to support the suggestions you’ve laid out, and add credence to your overall CRO strategy going forward
Remember, how your CRO audit report looks is as important as what’s inside it. So be sure to lay it out in a clear, concise way both visually and in terms of how you write it. Keep words, sentences, and paragraphs short, and use plenty of bullet points to break up your ideas into manageable, bite-sized chunks.
Of course, the findings of your CRO audit shouldn’t exist simply to sit in a box, gathering dust and serving as a new home for the spiders of your office.
No – it needs to be a living, breathing document that your whole team can buy into. Which means it can’t be some rigid, inflexible thing – but a guide you can optimize, iterate on, and continue to refine as your website, business (and the world at large!) keep changing.
So be sure to regularly revisit the findings of your CRO audit. And use the report – and strategy it results in – to guide ever-better decision-making about your website and conversion funnel.
To recap, our 10 tips for a top-notch CRO audit are:
- Prepare for the audit with data and KPIs
- Analyze website design and UX
- Assess the content funnel
- Analyze your website’s content and messaging
- Examine conversion tracking and analytics
- Assess trust and credibility factors
- Assess mobile optimization
- Analyze A/B testing and experimentation
- Create an actionable CRO report
- Implement and monitor changes
By following these steps, you’ll be able to increase your website’s conversion rates, and make your website a more engaging, informative, and compelling place to be. Boosting your brand, your audience size – and, of course, your bottom line!
For the average website conversion rates across five key industries, our extensive guide explains all.